Policy Paper No 3 - Blocking the Chain: Industrial food chain concentration, Big Data platforms and food sovereignty solutions
Pat Mooney – 2018
Smart farming, drones, remote-controlled tractors, the use of climate and weather information with Big Data technologies, or the application of synthetic biology: is digitalisation the new panacea for ending hunger crises, stopping biodiversity loss or for limiting climate change? In the policy paper “Breaking the Chain – Industrial food chain concentration, Big Data platforms and food sovereignty solutions”, Pat Mooney, laureate of the Alternative Nobel Prize, critically assesses digital developments in the food and agricultural sector. He seeks to define the main actors in the digitalisation business and discusses the importance of digitalisation for small-scale farmers and workers along the industrial food chain worldwide. New technologies promise increased efficiency and sustainability in food production. At the center of this phenomenon is the massive gathering and analysis of aggregated data generated in farming, cultivation and consumption. Agribusiness companies such as Bayer and Deere, but also Internet enterprises such as Amazon and Google are already in the process of acquiring their dominance over the digitisation of agriculture. Through merging processes, they consolidate their power not only in one sector, but across multiple hubs along the industrial food chain. Political decision-makers in Germany and elsewhere support their efforts, by emphasizing the benefits of digitalisation and by removing investment barriers. Mooney points to the problematic developments of these tendencies as well as to the limits of digitalisation and discusses in how far digitalisation can be used for a socio-ecological and just transformation of agriculture. The study “Breaking the chain – Industrial food chain concentration, Big Data platforms and food sovereignty solutions” is a joint publication by ETC Group, GLOCON, INKOTA and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.